Saudi women welcome World Bank recognition of advances in empowerment

A Saudi female employee serves a customer at a hypermarket, newly launched by the operator LuLu and run by a team of women, in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah, on Feb. 21, 2021. (AFP)
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A Saudi female employee serves a customer at a hypermarket, newly launched by the operator LuLu and run by a team of women, in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah, on Feb. 21, 2021. (AFP)
Wafa Alghamdi is director of life improvements with Mukatafah advocacy group in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Wafa Alghamdi is director of life improvements with Mukatafah advocacy group in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Maha S. Albalawi is a legal counselor with Pamas Group. (Supplied)
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Maha S. Albalawi is a legal counselor with Pamas Group. (Supplied)
Kholood Khaled Althekri is a public relations manager with Pamas Group in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Kholood Khaled Althekri is a public relations manager with Pamas Group in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi women welcome World Bank recognition of advances in empowerment

Saudi women welcome World Bank recognition of advances in empowerment
  • Annual Women, Business and the Law report ranks Kingdom in the top tier among 190 nations
  • Saudi Arabia scored 80 out of 100

RIYADH: The findings of a World Bank report about recent advances in the economic inclusion and empowerment of females in Saudi Arabia came as little surprise to the many women in the country already thriving in a wide range of jobs.
The Kingdom once again made significant progress compared with the previous year and ranks favorably alongside many advanced economies.
Women in the Kingdom who are benefiting from recent radical reforms designed to boost their participation in the workplace warmly welcomed the recognition of the country’s efforts by the World Bank’s annual Women, Business and the Law report, which this year ranked Saudi Arabia in its top tier.
“Legal reforms for women are a big part of the 2030 (Saudi) Vision and when you look at these reforms from an economic perspective, women now are moving freely, working freely, and they are now in fact likely to join the workforce more easily than before,” Kholood Khaled Althekri, a public relations manager with Pamas Group in Riyadh, told Arab News.
“These reforms will help strengthen the Kingdom’s economy for sure.”
The report places Saudi Arabia in the top tier of the 190 ranked nations with a score of 80 out of 100, compared with 70.6 last year. In allocating a score, researchers consider eight main factors: mobility, workplace, pay, entrepreneurship, pension, marriage, parenthood and assets. The Kingdom received full marks for the first five of these.
Empowering women is one of the key objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms plan, which aims to ensure they flourish and become active leaders and innovators who can contribute fully to the growth of the economy.
“In the outlined plans of Vision 2030 to develop the economy, the same vision will provide opportunities for everyone,” Althekri said. “Saudi women are the greatest assets to these plans, with more than half of university graduates now females.”
Wafa Alghamdi, director of life improvements with Mukatafah advocacy group in Riyadh, told Arab News that women in Saudi Arabia not only now have equal economic opportunities but are increasingly playing a significant role in the financial development of the country.
“Our religion and culture gives women a special place,” she said. “Women in our society are treated and considered as an asset to their households and families — and now as an asset to our country.
“We have something called ‘feminization,’ which is the new initiative by the government to increase the participation of women in work and business to encourage them and drive the force of the economy to the fullest.”
Alghamdi said that the support of Vision 2030 has helped her make strides in her career after she entered the hospitality industry and advanced through “hard work, dedication and government support” to reach the position of head of department in a relatively short time.
“I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without the guidance of Allah, first, and our beloved country’s push and support to be on top,” she added.
Saudi Arabia has not only introduced legal reforms to promote female empowerment but also funded projects and initiatives in a number of sectors, including tourism, investment and culture, that have created opportunities for women. Along with these initiatives, government sectors are committed to guaranteeing and protecting women’s rights in the workplace. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, for example, has worked to reduce gender-based discrimination and find ways to create safe work environments that foster growth and innovation.
Women have also played their part in creating legislation, opening businesses, and taking a leading role in private-sector investment. In addition, Saudi Arabia now has its first female professional racing driver, award-winning female film producers and female judges.
It has been less than five years since Vision 2030 was announced, but already many women have become leaders in the Saudi economy, own successful businesses, manage departments in a variety of businesses, and have even attained the rank of sergeant in the military.
The World Bank report also noted Saudi initiatives that have eliminated barriers to women entering industrial jobs such as “mining, construction, manufacturing and the water sector, setting men and women on equal terms in choice of employment opportunities.”
Maha S. Albalawi, a legal counselor with Pamas Group told Arab News: “The year 2020 is considered one of the most important years in the history of Saudi women. The decisions of (the Kingdom) to empower women in a number of sectors were remarkable and very important.
“This development of empowering Saudi women took place on several levels and fields, including economically and in the field of entrepreneurship, so we find a number of Saudi businesswomen whose names are (now known) locally and internationally.”
Albalawi said legal reforms ensure the rights of women will be protected and have resulted in funding for legal action in marital disputes.
“Several court rulings have also been issued in favor of Saudi women, such as the law on protection from violence, and for Saudi women to become judges for the first time in the history of the Kingdom,” she added.
All of the women Arab News spoke with said they have had personal experience of how the changes being implemented across the Kingdom have improved their lives and career prospects.
“I still remember when I first entered the private sector, as a coordinator, and I was afraid that I could not be as good as my male colleagues,” said Alghamdi.
“As time passed I discovered that I was even better — and now I am director of life improvements, working with a group of amazing ladies who are also heads of their departments and giving their best for our community to grow.”


Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
Updated 15 min 32 sec ago

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
  • The train accident left 97 wounded after it derailed off its tracks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it expresses its deep sorrow for the train accident north of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
A passenger train derailed earlier on Sunday in the city of Toukh in Qalyubia province, injuring around 100 people.
“The Kingdom expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Egyptian leadership, government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Four train wagons ran off the railway while the train was traveling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from Cairo, Egypt’s railway authority said.
(With AP)


Saudi minister meets UK special envoy for Gulf region

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir receives the special envoy of the British prime minister for the Arabian Gulf region, Edward Lister. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir receives the special envoy of the British prime minister for the Arabian Gulf region, Edward Lister. (SPA)
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi minister meets UK special envoy for Gulf region

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir receives the special envoy of the British prime minister for the Arabian Gulf region, Edward Lister. (SPA)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir met with the special envoy of the British prime minister for the Arabian Gulf region, Edward Lister, in Riyadh on Sunday.
During the meeting, both sides reviewed the historical relations between their two countries and ways to develop them, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
The also discussed regional and international issues of common interest, the ministry added.


Saudi senior source denies FT report of holding secret talks with Iran

Saudi senior source denies FT report of holding secret talks with Iran
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi senior source denies FT report of holding secret talks with Iran

Saudi senior source denies FT report of holding secret talks with Iran
  • Unnamed sources said the first round of talks took place in Baghdad on April 9

DUBAI: A senior Saudi official has denied direct talks have been held with Iran, four years after the two countries cut off diplomatic ties, contradicting a Financial Times report claiming discussions were ongoing between the two major regional players.

The Financial Times report, citing unnamed sources said the first round of talks took place in Baghdad on April 9, which included discussions on attacks against Saudi Arabia by the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

The report said the talks were being facilitated by Iraqi prime minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed in Riyadh last month.

Interestingly, not only did a Saudi source deny the story, but neither the Iranian and Iraqi governments provided the FT with a comment.

The report comes as major countries – China, Russia, France, Britain, Germany – engaged with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal have agreed to accelerate work on issues, including which sanctions on Tehran that the US would lift.

The nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, collapsed in 2018 when the US pulled out and then-president Donald Trump reimposed sanctions against Tehran.

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Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province
Saudi police arrested seven people for violating isolation and quarantine instructions. (SPA)
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province

Saudi police catch seven quarantine violators in Eastern Province
  • Health Ministry reports 948 new cases, 775 recoveries, 9 deaths

JEDDAH: Eastern Province police on Saturday arrested seven people for violating isolation and quarantine instructions, after they were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

Regional police spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammed bin Shar Al-Shehri said they had been caught in Dammam, Abqaiq, Al-Ahsa and Alkhobar and that all preliminary legal procedures had been taken against them for their cases to be referred to Public Prosecution.
People who violate quarantine procedures in Saudi Arabia are fined up to SR200,000 ($53,333), jailed for up to two years or both.
If the violation is repeated, the penalty imposed from the previous incident is doubled.
COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise in Saudi Arabia, with 948 new infections reported on Saturday to bring the total to 404,054.
The country has 9,449 active cases and 1,018 of them are in critical condition.

FASTFACT

People who violate quarantine procedures in Saudi Arabia are fined up to SR200,000 ($53,333), jailed for up to two years or both. If the violation is repeated, the penalty imposed from the previous incident is doubled.

Riyadh reported the highest number of cases with 419, followed by Makkah with 210 and the Eastern Province with 133. Three regions reported cases in the single digits: Najran with nine, Baha with eight and Jouf with seven cases.
There were 775 new recoveries, taking this total to 387,795, and a further nine deaths due to COVID-19 complications. The death toll is 6,810.
Saudi Arabia has administered more than 6.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses so far. Approximately 20 percent of the Kingdom’s population has now received at least one jab.
There were 51,126 PCR tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number conducted in the Kingdom to more than 16.12 million.


Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah

Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah
Visitors were allowed to enter the chamber in groups. All carpets were disinfected after every group. (SPA)
Updated 18 April 2021

Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah

Dozens of world’s finest carpets cover floor of Prophet’s Chamber in Madinah
  • More than 23,000 liters of eco-friendly disinfectants have been used for sanitizing carpets at the Prophet’s Mosque and the Bab Al-Salam corridor over the past few months
  • The channel reported that every carpet was fitted with an electronic chip containing data

JEDDAH: Dozens of the world’s finest carpets cover the floor of Rawdah Al-Sharifah (the Prophet’s Chamber) at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as part of the Saudi government’s care for the Two Holy Mosques.
There are 50 carpets in the chamber and all are crafted from top-quality materials and woven to the highest standards.
Bandar Al-Husseini is head of the carpet department at the Services Affairs Administration of the General Presidency of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. He said that the carpets had scheduled sweeping and cleaning programs that were carried out on a daily basis.
“In case a carpet is damaged it is immediately removed and replaced with another carpet,” he said. “The carpets are also subject to disinfection and sanitization processes around the clock.”
He told the Al-Ekhbariya channel that visitors were allowed to enter the chamber in groups, adding that all carpets were disinfected and sanitized after every group.


The channel reported that every carpet was fitted with an electronic chip containing data.

HIGHLIGHT

There are 50 carpets in the chamber and all are crafted from top-quality materials and woven to the highest standards.

“These chips can give information about a certain carpet since it was made and information about the cleansing history of the carpet and its future cleaning schedule,” Al-Ekhbariya reported.
More than 23,000 liters of eco-friendly disinfectants have been used for sanitizing carpets at the Prophet’s Mosque and the Bab Al-Salam corridor over the past few months.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, this step is part of precautionary measures taken to ensure the safety of worshippers and visitors during the coronavirus pandemic.
It also said that fragrances were used more than 7,743 times to perfume the mosque during the same period.

Mosque committees have been changing 450 carpets, and replacing the ones used in the Prophet’s Chamber every 10 days.

The mosque has also been applying preventive measures by distancing people, using marks on the carpets to avoid congestion.